Council Tables Resolution Hiring Additional Eight Fire Fighters
The City Council temporarily tabled a resolution hiring additional fire fighters during Monday’s City Council voting session, citing financial concerns and the need to carefully consider the long-term impact of the resolution.
If approved, the resolution would lift the hiring freeze to allow eight additional full-time fire fighters to be hired through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant the city was recently awarded in February.
During the City Council’s voting session, Finance Committee Chairwoman Kim Ecklund, R-At Large, explained that the council decided to table the resolution for a month in order to further evaluate the financial impact of hiring eight additional fire fighters.
“In the interest of doing it not the justice it deserves, we feel through Finance Committee and the rest of the council agrees, that we are going to table this to get those numbers in front of us, get the correct information, the adequate information, in addition to bringing the information of the ambulance forward, which is part of the numbers that were presented to us,” she said.
Ecklund added that City Council members need additional time to make sure the second city ambulance can be approved as part of the addition of eight fire fighters to the Jamestown Fire Department. While Ecklund said the City Council has been “cornered” both publicly and privately about being “noncommittal” to public safety, she emphasized that was not the reason City Council members decided to table the resolution.
“We were presented with this information of an acceptance on February 17 and briefly introduced to us at the first work session and asked for information, more details on the financial side of it, did not receive it up until including this morning, and many of us were working all day so did not have enough time to even look at it, much less to analyze it and get all the questions together that we had,” she said.
Ecklund expressed her disappointment at hearing “public rhetoric” suggesting that the City Council does not support public safety and that the City Council is not supportive of police and fire fighters. While Ecklund said City Council members want to support the Jamestown Fire Department and Jamestown Police Department by “giving them the world,” she shared that City Council members have to consider the financial impact the acceptance of the SAFER grant in the long-term.
In contrast to previous public comments and complaints regarding the City Council’s position on public safety, Ecklund reminded the public that the City Council has heavily invested in both the Jamestown Fire Department and Jamestown Police Department through American Rescue Plan Act funding.
“I just want it clear that roughly $2.1 million was given to the Jamestown Fire Department and $2.3 million to the Jamestown Police Department,” she said. “That’s almost $5 million of ARPA funding and budget changes to help, probably not enough as they will attest to, but to clearly try and show the support and to help those departments.”
During Monday’s voting session, City Councilwoman Marie Carrubba, D-Ward IV, shared another complication that resulted in the resolution being tabled. She explained that without a full-time comptroller or deputy comptroller, the city’s finance department is having a “difficult time” managing all of the various financial responsibilities for the city.
“It’s no one’s fault, but unfortunately, we’re dealing with a situation where some of our questions regarding finances cannot be addressed as quickly as we would like as we don’t have people in these positions to lead it, so unfortunately, this is delaying this resolution as well,” she said.
While the City Council voted to table the resolution that would lift the hiring freeze to allow for the hiring on an additional eight firefighters, the City Council voted unanimously to lift the hiring freeze to allow the city to hire five full-time fire fighters for the Jamestown Fire Department in order to fill current and anticipated vacancies. The funding for the five fire fighters was included in the city’s 2023 budget.